While many people dream of owning a big house with lots of room to move, others aren’t looking to take up too much space. Luckily for these modest home seekers, so-called “tiny houses” have become increasingly popular in recent years. Approximately 10,000 Americans currently live in these affordable and environmentally sustainable abodes that eliminate unneeded space. What’s more, at least 50 companies have popped up in the U.S. that construct tiny houses in all sorts of styles. But even with prices ranging from $40,000 to $100,000, the tiny house market is still very much in its infancy.
Still, a few companies have discovered some interesting ways to make money from tiny houses besides selling them to homebuyers. At an upscale resort in Lake Tahoe, for instance, residents are free to rent a 400-square-foot cabin whenever they have guests or want to throw a party. Besides being a perk for members, these “Rendezvous Cabins” can also be rented by prospective buyers to get a feel for the neighborhood. In fact, about 90 percent of visitors end up purchasing a home at the resort after spending a weekend in one of the tiny houses.
Other companies have taken the marketing power of tiny houses out on the road in order to generate social media buzz. During the summer, Hormel constructed a “Tiny House of Sizzle” that traveled to festivals, stadiums and malls throughout the country. Visitors could walk inside the brightly colored abode, receive free samples, and marvel at all sorts of vintage Spam merchandise. The New York clothing maker Untuckit performed a similar stunt in 2016 as its founders hauled a mini-boutique to college campuses along the East Coast. The company says the tiny house acted like a traveling billboard, attracting the eyes of consumers both on the road and online. “If we sold shirts, that was a bonus,” said Untuckit co-founder Chris Riccobono. So while homebuyers aren’t snatching up tiny houses in droves just yet, the popularity of these unique structures on social media have made them a potent marketing tool.
- Could the tiny house market someday grow into a major part of the real estate industry?
- Why do tiny houses make such an effective marketing tool?
Source: Kathy Chin Leong, “To Fans They’re Tiny Houses. To Businesses They’re Billboards,” The New York Times, October 31, 2017. Photo by Guillaume Dutilh.